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Thursday, 4 January, 2001, 17:21 GMT
Seattle's mystery monolith disappears
Monolith in Seattle AP
Seattle's monolith: Here one day, gone the next
Just as mysteriously as it appeared, the monolith which was found on a grassy knoll in Seattle's Magnuson Park on New Year's morning has vanished into thin air.

Baffled park officials discovered its absence on Wednesday when they went to check whether the structure was a danger to public safety.

You don't just drop a large metal monolith in a park without some planning

Local resident
All that remained of the nine-foot-tall (three-metre) smooth steel block was a rectangular hole where it had stood, a few candles and a broken-stemmed rose.

The black sculpture had confounded locals who found it. Devoid of markings or inscriptions it was presumed to be a reference to the monoliths featured in the classic science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Although only a fleeting attraction, the monolith had already become a popular draw for the park, with visitors flocking to see and touch it.

Space visitor

Eighty-year-old Eleanor Freeman was clearly spellbound. "It must have come from space. I hope it did," she said.

And despite evidence that the monolith had been dragged down the hill to a waiting vehicle, park director C David Hughbanks was not about to break the illusion.

"It may take a journey. It may pop up again," he said.

Evolution shift

So what should humans make of the sudden visitor? As in the film, the appearance of a black structure raises questions, the most obvious of which is: who created it?

It must have come from space. I hope it did

Seattle pensioner
In the movie - a collaboration between director Stanley Kubrick and writer Arthur C Clarke - the appearance of a black monolith portends radical shifts in human evolution, from the ape-to-man and from human-to-star-child.

Visitors to the park agreed that whoever is responsible put in considerable effort.

The block had smooth welds, no obvious construction marks and had been carefully positioned.

As one local resident observed: "You don't just drop a large metal monolith in a park without some planning."

But some people had an altogether more radical theory.

"Maybe it isn't the work of humans after all - what the monolith is and what it means is never fully explained in the film," said Seattle resident George DeMet.

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See also:

03 Jan 01 | Americas
Mysterious monolith marks 2001
01 Jan 01 | Entertainment
2001 Space Odyssey: Was Kubrick right?
09 Mar 99 | UK
Kubrick: A film odyssey
26 May 00 | South Asia
Arthur C Clarke knighted
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